The Best Way to Tour Wine Country in Santa Barbara, California

February 25, 2014

- Posted by Stephen Chapek


One of the things that we get to do as an executive transportation company in Southern California is provide transportation for visitors from around the country and around the world. It is always interesting to see your home territory through a fresh set of eyes.

One of the sights that world travelers like to see when they come to Southern California is our world-famous wineries in the Santa Ynez valley and Santa Barbara County. It is the perfect blend of sightseeing, culture and relaxation. Naturally some of our potential clients ask us about the best way to tour wine country in SoCal. I thought we could take a look at this issue in this article.

Best Ways to Tour Southern California Wineries

When one comes to Southern California, the largest and most interesting wine growing area nearby is in Santa Barbara County. If you’ve never been there, it is well worth a visit:  a beautifully scenic and peaceful rural delight.

This is an area with world class agriculture, and the explosion of the winemaking industry there has also raised awareness of culinary trends in food and wine as well as raising standards in the hospitality and restaurant industry. So there are many great hotels and restaurants to enjoy while you’re visiting the region.  

There is also an abundance of great outdoor activity to enjoy as well. While the Santa Ynez Valley, the heart of wine country in Santa Barbara County offers up plenty of vineyards, golf courses and horse ranches that one can visit, you also have the nearby mountains to enjoy for things like hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and also horseback riding. And then you have a wonderful coastline to enjoy as well, with plenty of opportunities to sunbathe on the beach, or go swimming, boating, diving or sailing. Don’t forget the beach volleyball either!

Some of the most established wineries in the area and great places to visit are the Firestone Winery, the Fess Parker Winery, Zaca Mesa,  Sanford, Kalyra Winery and Sunstone just to name a few. Each of these locations offer wine tasting rooms, private tours and are open most days of the year.

Planning a Santa Barbara Wine Tour

In terms of the best way to visit these locations, you have a couple different options, depending upon how you prefer to travel. The independent option would be to do a self-guided tour. One could rent a car in Los Angeles, if that’s your arrival point to Southern California, drive up the coast to Santa Barbara and poke around on your own, perhaps using a guidebook as your tour guide.

This has the advantage of costing less, since your not paying anyone to show you around, but then you have to do all the work and planning yourself! This may work well for the independent traveler, and also the budget conscious, but by doing it on your own, you could miss out on a lot of highlights that you may never be aware of. That’s one of the reasons using a local guide could be to your advantage.

That brings me to my next point: going with a local tour company to bring you around to the different wineries in the area. Here, you have the advantage of being provided with expert advice, optimized tours that hit only the best places and of course the comfort and convenience of being driven around to various locations.

This option works best however for tourists who are also staying in the Santa Barbara area. Many of these tour guides will pick you up at your hotel, but these are local pick ups only. I am not aware of any tour services that would do hotel pick ups for guests who are not staying in the local area. Also this is usually a more social option as well because when you go on these guided tours, you will usually be in a larger group, unless you specifically book a private tour.

If you're interested in learning more you may want to check our previous blog post on the Wine Tour of Santa Barbara County.

Limousine Wine Tours in California

The third option would be going on a limousine tour. This would most likely be your most expensive option, but it is also the most luxurious. This is a great option for the high-end traveler because you get to have your own personal chauffeured transportation, in the comfort of a private luxury vehicle. Everything runs off your timetable and your personal interest. If you want to linger a bit longer at one location, or make a last minute detour to someplace off the beaten path, that’s no problem at all when you take a limousine tour.

Many clients who have used limousine services in the past, say perhaps for an airport transfer, don’t realize that many limousine companies also offer sightseeing packages where you can go on a guided tour of certain areas, or even come up with own itinerary. Have chauffeur, will travel!

Once you decide to go with the limousine plan, then the next choice would be to decide upon the vehicle that best suits your needs. If you’re traveling with a large enough group, at least 10 people or more, then using a passenger van or a minibus might be the best option.

Many limousine companies also specialize in bus service, so if you ever have an even larger group, say 20 plus or 40 plus passengers, then going with an executive transportation provider who has a bus fleet would really be your only option.

For groups of 6 people or less you have most vehicle options available to you. The smallest choice would be a four door executive sedan, but you could also opt for a SUV or a luxury van, or even a stretch limousine. As a general rule of thumb when hiring a limousine, the more passengers a vehicle holds and the fancier it is, or the more features it has, the more expensive it will be.

Brilliant’s Luxury Van Wine Tour Service

For those whom luxury and outstanding customer service are a priority, let me suggest another alternative: booking a wine-tour with Brilliant Transportation in one of our luxury Mercedes Benz Sprinter vans. Our 7 passenger Sprinter van is like traveling in your own private jet, except that you’re on the ground. It is the ultimate standard in private motoring. You and your family or friends could be whisked away in total comfort and convenience.

The vans feature four captains chairs that face each other, and a comfortable back bench that can fold down into a bed. There are fine leather and wood materials used throughout the cabin. For entertainment there are two 32” flat screens providing over 180 channels of DirecTV, satellite radio and teleconferencing equipment too.

Whether or not you decide to take a self-guided tour or hire your own private tour guide, this is certainly most exclusive way to tour the wine country. However, we at Brilliant Transportation understand that our service and our prices are not for everyone. We cater to the high end of the market, but not every traveler is in that same league.

The Best Way to Tour Vineyards and Wineries

We also wanted to provide information to customers interested in a limousine tour on some of the other possibilities that are available.

Avalon Transportation, ITS Limousine, Wilshire Limousine, Empire CLS and KLS Worldwide are all well-regarded limousine companies that could help you plan such a trip.

Now, a word about planning. None of these companies specifically advertise packaged wine tours of Santa Barbara County but limousine companies are flexible and resourceful. So pretty much any itinerary that you could come up, they would be happy to execute for you. It terms of pricing, it would most likely be an hourly rate covering the duration of your trip.

I recommend you check out some of these companies to see what they would have to offer you. If you remain interested in taking a trip in one of our peerless Sprinter vans, and planning your own private tour of Southern California wine country, by all means, contact us at 1-800-543-1001 or get an easy quote online.

Request a Quote

Topics: Wine Tours, Los Angeles, California, Santa Barbara

Get your custom quote




Get a Quote

(212) 799-5555

[email protected]

The Brilliant Agency LLC
PO Box 9796, Jackson, WY, 83002

Luxury transportation experts focusing on special event transportation using Mercedes Sprinters, luxury mini buses, and coach buses in NYC and LA.